We sought to capture the uniqueness of each diasporic community through networks, data points, geo-snippets, and in-depth case studies, blending the quantitative with the qualitative. These are exploratory versions based on excerpts from our analyses, policy briefs and reports. Demographic data will be updated for the UK-based Romanian diaspora once the 2021 Census outputs become available (the first release is expected in April 2022). The networked approach captures not only connectivity but also the overall impact and social capital of each community, the latter documented through qualitative semi-structured interviews, focus groups, embedded participation, and in some cases, archival research.
Moreover, the series of orbital geo-snippets bring to life, albeit from above, the context, those neighbourhoods, and urban boroughs where Romanians predominantly settled, opening businesses, community centres, and other spaces that replicate Little Romania(s) abroad. We are also interested in capturing broader dynamics, particularly the continuity between historical and the more recent, emergent diasporas. The political refugees and dissidents having escaped communist repression actively mobilised from abroad, forming transnational advocacy networks and coalitions of support, thus bringing to the forefront the plight of captive nations from behind the Iron Curtain. Observing the succession patterns between the dissident diaspora of before and the more recent civic movements have been peripheral to scholarship. Therefore, we aim to restore continuity by analysing the legacies of civic and political mobilisation past and present. Courtesy of Radu Eftimie (from CRE, the oldest Romanian Community Organisation in Switzerland) and Mihnea Mihai (Rezist Zurich, a civic diaspora association), we were granted access to one of the most enduring dissident archival repositories, a publication that survives to this day – Căminul Românesc.
As a collaborative endeavour between diaspora associations in Switzerland, TDI and Ms Amelie Deblauwe from Cambridge University Library, we are in the process of curating the archive, rendering it accessible to the broader public through an innovative set of exploratory tools. We can observe how political discourse and civic priorities have evolved, not as fragments of different movements but on a historical continuum. Conversely, broader geopolitical dynamics come to life through the prism of former dissidents and their strategic activism. Beyond mobilisation, we also examine diasporic social cohesion over time, essentially what solidified and brought communities together. Although we may not be able to recover the networks of the past entirely, we can glimpse into the themes and mediums of socialisation through surviving archives. On the Community Profile for Romanians in Switzerland, one can explore snippets of our ongoing research, with a lot more to be added in the following months.